The World Is Becoming "More Dangerously Religious"

Question: Is atheism more or less evolved than belief in God?

Lionel Tiger: I don’t think that we have any reason to say that one way of life is better than another except if it doesn’t scare the horses, that so long as it doesn’t denigrate other people, so long as it doesn’t despoil the environment, so long as it allows people to live civilly with each other whether they believe in the same thing or not then I would be reluctant to say you’re better than you are simply because you don’t believe in God and you do.  For example, Habermas, the leading German philosopher has said that we may need religion because there has to be some way of controlling rationalism.  Remember he came out of the Nazi country where there was a lot of rational argument in favor of what happened there.  It was quite well argued.  However, it was as we know remarkably awful because there was no religious or moral anecdote to what the logical power of the Nazi regime insisted on doing.

Question:
Are we more or less likely to believe in God as we evolve further?

Lionel Tiger: One of the reasons we wrote God’s Brain was in part because it seemed to us that the world was strangely enough becoming more religious and more dangerously religious, so what used to be fights between communists and capitalists, which is really who gets to own a factory making tools has now become a conflict between one priest and another and in a way it’s more reassuring to fight over who gets to run the factory because it’s there.  When you’re dealing with theoretical issues like who serves God better that becomes rapidly rather frightening and unattached to any reality, so I’m not sure that if we look ahead we will see more religion or less religion.  The evidence so far is that even though the enlightenment and the history of… recent history of Europe was supposed to liberate us from all of those old religions the opposite seems to have been true in sufficient places so that we can’t assume this is a law of nature.

"When you’re dealing with theoretical issues like who serves God better that becomes rapidly rather frightening and unattached to any reality."

Related Articles

Scientists discover what caused the worst mass extinction ever

How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.

Credit: Ron Miller
Surprising Science

While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.

Keep reading Show less

Why we're so self-critical of ourselves after meeting someone new

A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.

New acquaintances probably like you more than you think. (Photo by Simone Joyner/Getty Images)
Surprising Science

We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.

Keep reading Show less

NASA launches ICESat-2 into orbit to track ice changes in Antarctica and Greenland

Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.

Firing three pairs of laser beams 10,000 times per second, the ICESat-2 satellite will measure how long it takes for faint reflections to bounce back from ground and sea ice, allowing scientists to measure the thickness, elevation and extent of global ice
popular

Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).

Keep reading Show less